Argentina is a country which has been influenced by the castilla language of the first Spanish colonialists and the indigenous languages spoken by the native Indians – a mixture of Quichua, Guaraní and Mapuche, depending on the region of the country you might happen to be referring to.
The rich mixture of violently opposed heritages, combined with the development of lunfardo in Buenos Aires during the late 19th century, has gradually over time turned Argentine Spanish (or Castellano, as Argentines dub it) into a very particular form of Spanish with an incredible range of words and phrases such as “cancha” and “canchero.”
While in most Spanish-speaking countries “cancha” is used to refer to a football pitch or other kind of delineated area marked out for the purposes of a sports match, it can also be used in a number of other contexts.
In Argentina, the term “cancha” comes from a combination of the Quichua and Spanish languages and it was first referred to the idea of a football pitch or sporting arena thanks to a popular sport that the native Indians in Argentina used to play – a sport very similar in style to the team game, Chueca, that Spanish colonialists in the country were fond of playing.
The “cancha” for this game was rectangular in shape and either lined by a series of rocks or simply delineated by creating markings on the ground. Each team player was armed with a long stick, similar in style to that of a hockey stick, and the object of the game was to try and knock the ball out of the delineated area.
However, “cancha” can also be used in Argentina to refer to someone who has lots of experience or lots of freedom in which to do something. Someone who has lots of “cancha” in an area, is very experienced in that area.
Whereas the word “cancha” is used in other Spanish-speaking countries, “Canchero” is a word particular to Argentina and developed during the late 19th century as part of Buenos Aires’ lunfardo.
The word “canchero” is used to refer to someone who needs to stand out in front of the crowd by using words or vocabulary and by performing actions which will cause attention and make people take notice. For example, instead of asking if you want to go for a coffee (café in Spanish), a “canchero” might ask you to join him for a “feca” – which is the lunfardo play on words for café.
Everything that the “canchero” does is to seem important in the eyes of others and to draw attention to his words and actions from others. He is pedantic and rather condescending at times too.
“Canchero” originated from the Quichua-Spanish word “cancha,” referring to someone who “has cancha” or a person who is “canchero” and who, if we turn it into its verb form, likes to “cancherear,” which describes the actions of a person who tries to show-off or make a display in order to be able to control and dominate the situation at hand.